Ubykh suspicions (was brz reloaded!)
|From:||Shreyas Sampat <ssampat@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, September 28, 2005, 12:47|
Paul Bennett wrote:
> In a similar vein, I always get a bit askance when I hear Ubykh
> described as having two "underlying" vowels, conditioned by the
> surrounding consonants. I'm no scholar in that field, but I'll need
> to see a very convincing argument that there aren't rather more
> vowels, conditioning the surrounding consonants (instead of the
> inverse), before I can learn to let that claim slide without a raised
I'd imagine there are some fairly straightforward ways to test this out,
like for instance observing what occurs when a final-V and C-initial
element come into contact in a conditioning environment; I'd expect
that, if C conditions V, then you can cause V to alter by changing C,
but you can't alter C by changing V, and the opposite would be true if V
is the conditioning agent.
That was a really confusing sentence! In other words:
If C conditions V:
...V + C1... > ...V1C1...
...V + C2... > ...V2C2...
*...V1 + C... > ...V1C1...
*...V2 + C... > ...V2C2...
and the reverse pattern of starring if V > C.
Knowing natlangs, the real situation is more subtle and complex than
that, but it seems like, if the situation were particularly ambiguous,
then the conditioning vowels analysis would get at least as much press
as the other, if only because it opposes such an exotically romantic
notion as a language with only two vowels.
The king of Kúddhim keeps a flagon of phoenix's blood, a shining alloy
of honey and fire, hidden in his treasure vault. Whenever someone of the
royal line dies, his heir takes the throne. Then, the late king's heart
is washed with the immortal blood and planted in the royal tomb. In nine
nights, a copper raven claws its way from the earth, who speaks with the
king's voice and knows his dead mind. Thus they have preserved their
wisdom unbroken since the dawn of the world, so they say.